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ROD BLUH COLUMN: Town to build on economic strategy
1:00pm Thursday 1st November 2012 in News
THE biggest challenges that both the Borough and the country face is the need for sustainable and long-lasting economic growth.
It is vital that all levels of government return to the principles of financial responsibility that were practised by some governments, and that the Council continues to practice.
However, we will only be able to meet all our responsibilities as a local authority if the economy is growing. In particular, we need to find enduring jobs for the youth unemployed.
Over the last few weeks, the Council has taken two major steps to achieve this. On October 17, Cabinet approved a draft economic strategy that sets out how the town will build on its record as a centre of industry and innovation to develop new 'green' and hi-tech opportunities.
For example, we lead the UK with the first commercial hydrogen filling station that kept the taxis running during the Olympic and Paralympic games, and we are receiving the new 4G Wi-Fi ahead of most of our competitor towns.
Last Monday I was present at a briefing with the Deputy Prime Minister at the launch of the second round of the City Deals project in which the government gives selected local authorities more control over public money to promote the economy.Swindon was put forward along with Wiltshire in recognition of the M4 corridor’s economic potential.
The purpose of the City Deal is to allow us to support infrastructure such as roads that will open up employment land to new and innovative schemes.
It was quite clear that the government has invited us to shape our own future prosperity rather than fall back on our traditions.
Our task now, along with small, medium and large local businesses is to work up plans about how we will use these additional resources creatively and effectively.
One area that we are keen to explore is how we make good use of the skills in the armed forces when service personnel leave to re-enter civilian life.
We will seek to develop other areas, and I look forward to continuing to work with our business partners in the Local Enterprise Partnership, with Swindon Insight and the Federation of Small Businesses, with Wiltshire Council and all the Councillors in Swindon to develop a successful application.
Finally, to allay any fears that City Deals also mean we are applying for city status, it’s just the name that’s been given to the project, but we’re not seeking to become a city.
We are happy to be a thriving town that is an excellent place in which to do business and a good place in which to live.